By Boston Business Journal

Western Massachusetts Electric Co. plans to construct a 4.2-megawatt solar power project in Springfield, Mass., which would be the largest solar project under development in New England.

The $22 million project would involve installation of 17,000 solar panels on a capped landfill on Cottage Street. The project would generate enough electricity to power approximately 1,700 homes.

Local permitting for the project is underway, and the utility expects to begin construction in the second quarter, with the project reaching completion by the end of the year.

Western Massachusetts Electric, owned by Hartford-based Northeast Utilities (NYSE:NU), also holds the title for New Englandâ¿¿s largest completed solar power project, a 1.8-megawatt array on a former industrial site in Pittsfield, Mass.

In Scituate, meanwhile, development started in December on a town project to build 2.4 megawatts of solar on a capped landfill; the Solar Energy Business Association of New England had previously said the Scituate project was the largest solar array under development in New England.

The solar industry has generally been trending toward larger projects on the ground, which are often more cost efficient than rooftop arrays, said Paul Gromer, executive director of the Boston-based association, previously.

Putting solar on landfills or other brownfield sites, he said, ⿿is a nice fit between available land with restricted use and a technology that⿿s looking for bigger pieces of land.⿝

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